funny e-mail to my former Ph.D. colleagues and friends

It was a treat this week to get to write this e-mail to my old buddies from the CU Ph.D. program. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t include the photos:

Hello, colleagues!

I’m needing one of you to come join me in Switzerland! The media studies and media production (*very* limited production) curriculum in the small liberal arts college where I teach is handled by two people and the other guy just announced he’s leaving — so it would be you and me.

Here’s the ad:

The good news: I’ve just rewritten the curriculum and it’s mostly things you can and will want to teach. It’s in Lugano, Switzerland! All the chocolate, skiing, lake activites, funiculares and fresh, hot pizza you could ever want await you. Not to mention wine, the Olympics, etc. You and I could mold young minds from 55 countries. I’ve paved the way for you here, building community with the faculty where previously there was none. There’s a cadre of 40-something really smart people here who are great to work with. We’ve just created a new Cultural Studies major, we’re working to build an Institute. Also, George Bush does not run this country. That’s all I’m sayin’ (as Sam would say).

The bad news: the administration here is wacky. No, that’s an understatement. They’re messed up. I will do my best to help you navigate the intricate maze that is administrative red tape here, but I can only do so much. Oh, and it rains more than Boulder.

Still, life is wonderful. The other day a bunch of us were skiing in Davos. Alesia, the head of Development, says on the lift, “We’re skiing in Switzerland… because we live here.” This made us all just crack up. Life is good. I’d love to have ANY of you join me. Please let me know if you send in your stuff, ok? Or talk to me first — I can help you tailor it for the job.



What if…

Sometimes people here just can’t imagine that a thirty-something single woman just sold or shipped everything and moved here more or less on a whim. “It sounded like a good idea,” I say.

Here’s the thing: I get more and more that life is short. I say stop analyzing and thinking about it and live it. Just go. You never know when it might get cut short. I sometimes say, meaning this metaphorically, that you never know when you might get hit by a bus.

Then I read this story today. He really did get hit by a bus.

See… live it, I say. Soak it all in. Go. Explore. Adventure. Play. Say it. Now, not later. Just do it. Whatever it looks like like for you…

a weekend in Davos

We didn’t have school on Friday — carnivale holiday designed so the students can go to Venice, I guess… so Alesia, Nathan and I went skiing in Davos for a couple of days.

They found a fabulous little pensione about 20 minutes away from Davos, the Hotel Bellevue — we were booking last-minute rooms and everything in town was full, but this was waaaay cheaper and the chef was amazing. Two of these photos are from the parking lot; the photo in the top right corner is out the window in our room.

I had the thickest, most fabulous comforter I have ever seen. This is one of my favorite parts of travelling in German-speaking cultures… the comforters are fabulous.

The first day we skiied at Parsenn, which Jessica and I skiied when Andrew and she were out here last month. Here are some new scenes I shot from there. You can click on them to see them larger. To me, it looked like we were in the Himalayas…

Not a bad view for a day at play (or any day, for that matter, huh?) At one point we were on a chair lift and Alesia said, “We’re skiing in Switzerland… because we live here.” That made us all just crack up spontaneously and simultaneously. It’s become our running joke. We’re all Southerners and new here and it is amazing to us still.

And then we ate at McDonald’s.

Let me explain…

We were starving before we took the funiculare up to ski, and McDonald’s was the only quick thing to eat. It was right across the street from the ski area. Though I was appalled at the idea of eating McDonald’s in Europe, I have to say that burger was actually really good… it tasted like the same ketchup, onions, etc. but it had real meat and enough that you could tell it was real meat. The french fries were done just right and reminded me of home. The best part of this photo, though, and why I took it is that McDonald’s has ski racks… see them back behind Nathan and Alesia? That cracked me up.

I wish I had taken photos of our food at dinner… because it was really, really good. I had a thin cutlet of veal that had been flipped over like an omelet around prociutto and gruyere cheese. It was really, really good. With homefried potatoes. Yum. The next night I had jagerrosti. I may have to do a whole post on this Swiss potato thing rosti. This is not the time for that… I diverge.

The next day we skiied at Rinerhorn, which has my new favorite ski run on the planet. This is where the locals ski in Davos. It was almost completely empty (compared to Colorado). It’s also almost all t-bars … really old-fashioned lifts where you just hold onto a bar and it pulls you up and you are totally exposed to the elements and you can’t fool around or you’ll fall over since you’re just standing on your skis. Anyway… I was having some technical difficulty because I didn’t bring my goggles and the weather was bad… it was snowing heavily and the run we loved started all the way at the top of the mountain and went all the way to the bottom. By the time I got all the way up with the t-bar, my eyelashes were frozen clumps of snow. This photo doesn’t fully convey the magnitude of my technical difficulty. I ended up going down with my eyes closed at one point, whcih was actually good practice for feeling my edges. There was nobody there and this run was wide and gently sloped and fabulous, so it was fine. It was so much fun. Really perfect.

Here’s just another shot from my morning walk with Mufasa. Ho-hum. (I’m kidding.) Can you believe how beautiful it is?!

We came home early today. Mufasa slept in the car — just getting away is a bit tiring for him, it seems. He is such a good traveler. He just goes wherever I go and hangs out just fine. Today we met an old couple from Finland and they asked where he was from. When I said Boulder, they talked on and on about a trip they took and how they loved Lyons, CO. Mufasa makes friends everywhere!

I’m making friends, too. I taught them how to play Settlers of Catan. It’s been a long, long time since I played. I can’t play without saying the bizarre but funny phrases that Dave and Kim (who taught Steve and me how to play) made up to go with certain parts of the game. In fact, lots of stuff came up for me… just memories of being in our big house on Lombardi Street, having friends over, playing til late into the night. I miss playing with Glenda and Craig, but I don’t miss even a little bit being in that marriage. Anyway, the game just topped off a great weekend.

just something I’m thinking about…

Mom, don’t freak out when you read this. It’s just something I’m thinking about.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for about a year, like in a far-off, if-life-had-happened-differently kind-of way, but I realize now there’s no reason not to just explore this idea.

When I was in Idaho, I started teaching Media Law. I taught in the courtroom. I was scared to teach law at first, because though I had a backgound in policy and regulation, I didn’t know anything about media law torts, etc. I liked it, though, and it makes easy sense to me.

Then Chuck Brown came to visit. Chuck Brown is this lanky, 50-something, unassuming lawyer who happened upon a First Amendment case right out of the University of Idaho law school and has never lost in a courtroom in his 20 or so odd years. Now media outlets all over the U.S. call him if they’ve been sued. He flies in and helps them out. He tells hysterical stories about things he does in the courtroom — but they’re only funny if you know all the legal jargon, so I’ll spare you here.

He was great to watch, and I am still using his examples and mannerisms and ideas and cases.

And I think about law school.

Lately, a lot.

I could be a freedom of expression, media law expert — in Europe. Or for global media conglomerates… like Disney.

It’s just an idea for now. I know I could get into European law schools — I’ve already investigated that. I know I could get a longer-term visa if I chose to do this.

I know this College is too small for me for forever.
I know I love the *idea* of going back to school.
I think maybe I could work part-time as a legal consultant and make more money than I do now.

So I am just in an inquiry about this…
inquiries are fun.

And I like all the letters after my name.

HA! I am kidding — I soooo don’t care about that.

Big Weekend

Big doin’s this weekend. I really need to take more pictures.

Friday night I went out dancing for the first time here. The dance clubs don’t open til 1 a.m. How’s that for a cultural thing?

Saturday five of us went to The Olympics! They’re only two hours away in Torino, Italy… so the five of us from the Christmas photo piled into Alesia’s car and off we went to see the U.S. Ladies Hockey team SPANK Switzerland. It was fun, and we were in the same room as Laura Bush, which no matter what you think of her or her husband’s politics, is cool. I’ll post photos of that soon — I have to get them from the others.

One of the neat things about that is that we are starting to know each other well enough to say stuff you only say among friends. We make jokes about each other and ourselves, and just generally have fun. I like them. It’s nice.

There’s nothing to do here on Sundays, so Mufasa and I have a new ritual: we walk all the way down the hill from my house and across town along the lake and then back home — this takes about an hour and a half. Here are two pictures from our walk today. The neatest thing about the photo of town is that I haven’t altered or edited it at all.

Mufasa says, “Woof!” to you! He’s worn out about halfway through…

Me and the Bad Men

I really know how to pick ’em, let me tell you. It’s not just that I’m attracted to unavailable men who treat me badly and bored senseless by sweet men who think I’m wonderful …though there is that to ponder. No, perhaps the more remarkable thing to consider at this point in my fairly illustrious and increasingly public dating career is why I go back for more from the bad ones until, finally, I have those “This is insane” moments. Over and over I go back for all different kinds of bad and belittling until it’s out of control.

Why extend generosity just because he’s anatomically male and happens to have nice eyes? That’s how I think of it in the beginning, “We’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt on that one…” and “He didn’t really mean it that way…” and “… but I like other things about him.” What is that about? I heard Oprah say something great about this. She said, and this sounded genius to me despite its obviousness and simplicity, “Give people one chance to show you who they are…” Something like that. One chance. Treat me badly; we’re done. I can’t seem to do that.

Let me explain. There’s history here. I won’t post their photos. I am many things, but my mean streak isn’t as well-developed as you might think after those few posts about the Frenchman (who we’ll get to later), so the three or four photos that come immediately to mind will stay safely saved elsewhere on my computer.

This isn’t really about them, anyway. This is about outgrowing that pattern, learning something new, expecting more for myself and going out to get it.

Suffice it to say that this has been going on since my first college romance. I was 18, and he was the best-looking freshman at Hampshire College. I’ll never forget the first moment I saw him. It was in Brown Kennedy’s Seven Southern Writers class. I was sitting in the far corner of the room with my head wedged in the angle where the walls met. He walked in and I remember, 16 years later now, sitting up and thinking, “Maybe I’ll stay here after all.” A Southern California beach breeze might as well have blown in after hi

For months I was so excited that the best-looking new boy on campus liked me, that I didn’t even pause to wonder if I was getting what I wanted out of the whole thing. Come to think of it, that was probably enough — that the best-looking new boy on the whole damned campus wanted me. At first. It turned bad later with him, and I just wanted to help. To fix. To take it away or make it better. And he did scary things I won’t describe here because my Mother and Grandmother may be reading.

The “This is insane” moment with him? There were two little ones that are safe to share here:
1. One evening we were walking through a parking lot to his car. This was probably at least a year in. He told me not to shuffle my feet, not to walk the way I was walking. I still think about that moment when I find myself making the noise my feet made that humid Massachusetts evening and I still think, “This is insane.”

2. The second was right before he left: We were sitting on the floor with our backs against the sofa, eating pizza. He became enraged and threw pizza. I don’t even remember it all happening, but I remember that at one point he actually said that I should not inhale when I ate. He said he didn’t want me to breathe.

But it’s 2006 now. He has a wife and a baby girl and I have an ex-husband with a domestic violence charge against him (expunged from his record as if none of it ever happened). I’m alone in Lugano, Switzerland writing this. How to break the pattern?

I bring this all up because I received a remarkable (though I’m not sure what the remarks would be) e-mail last night from a man over whom I’ve been pining. You know the one. He suggested that I wear my clothes differently. It was actually posed as a very nice, friendly request out of “genuine” concern for me. He asked me to never tuck sweaters in because it doesn’t look good and sweaters aren’t to be tucked in. He used examples of outfits I’ve worn recently and a sweet tone. He even said he was telling me this because he cared.

Damn him. I actually stood in front of my closet this morning thinking about it. I am mad, but it isn’t about him. I am disgusted and recognize that it’s not about me, either, his crazy stuff.

At least now I can see that I find these men who are running these scripts in their heads. I see that his was there before me and will be there long after and I am not playing that role in this script. I see that I was chasing, drawn to it like a drug… and that’s just me running my script. Me and the bad men. What to do?

Change up the script. I’m going skiing this three-day weekend with people who think I am absolutely fabulous just the way I am!

Being at source

I’m grappling with something lately. I’ll tell you what it is in a second and I want you to please post comments. I know lots of people read this blog. You tell me. Then you tell me your friends I don’t even know read it, too. You have to understand, I live in a country where I don’t really speak the language, I work ALL THE TIME in a tiny college. This is my link to conversation, to dialogue. Please post comments. I’d love to know what you think about this one…

Two things, really, but I don’t have much to say about the first: It’s just that it’s amazing how lonely I can still be even though I encounter lots of people every day. I miss intimate talk: friendship, family, love. I think of calling you a lot, but often when it’s the middle of the night your time… or mine. I have pictures out all over my house right now… of childhood in FL, fun in CO, college, Marni and my high school buddies… just to remember that you are all out there! One of my colleagues said this morning that I need to get a real life instead of having a virtual one. Ouch.

The second thing is this: I so believe in being the source of life, being personally responsible for whatever happens… creating an intention, going out and making it happen… do you know what I mean? I really believe we each create our own lives, and I think so many people die waiting for “someday” to happen or regretting things they never said or did or saw.

But I keep running into messages and people that say, “You can’t force things. You can’t MAKE that happen. You can’t bull-in-the-china-shop this.” It brings up Fate, Letting Go, Control… for example, finding love when you stop looking kind-of thing.

It runs counter to who I say I am in the world:

Who I am is an awesome force of nature — entertaining, inspiring, calling forth talent, action, adventure and acknowledgment.

Maybe I’m just hanging out with the wrong people!

What do you think?

The weekly update

It’s been a slow, lazy weekend, but exciting things are happening.

I got a paper accepted at a conference in Amherst, MA. I went to college there and haven’t been back in 14 years. I am so excited to get to walk around on campus at my alma mater, Hampshire College. I go on March 29 for a long weekend.

I’m working on a book with a colleague.

The other International Communication professor is leaving, so we’re hiring. Wendy, do you know anyone who might want to come be the Comm dept. with me?

Today I walked with Mufasa all the way down through town and along the lake. I called a friend, Nathan, and we walked together. It was nice.

And Beth arrives Wednesday! YAY!

I got this off Helen’s blog:
Four Things, a list

Four jobs I’ve had:
I worked at The Gap in high school
I was a tv producer in San Diego
I’ve written a lot of freelance magazine articles
I worked for The Gronstedt Group for a couple of years

Four movies I can watch over and over:
I love the cinematography in Out of Africa. The colonial discourse makes it a guilty pleasure. I even went on a bit of a quest to her house in Denmark once.

Four places I’ve lived:
Sarasota, FL
Amherst, MA
Boulder, CO
Moscow, ID

Four TV shows I love:
Grey’s Anatomy
BBC Correspondent
I can’t think of a fourth.

Four places I’ve vacationed:

Captiva Island, FL… as a kid
all over Italy
a Club Med in Mexico
driving cross-country, cost to coast… U.S.

Four of my favorite dishes:
gnocchi w/gorgonzola
chocolate/chocolate chip brioche from a bakery in Lyon
pizza from the little man across the street
my Mom’s cube steak

Four places I would rather be right now:

with you